What’s the story?
One of the talking points in this IPL season has been Rohit Sharma’s reluctance to open the innings. The 29-year old has finally cleared the air surrounding his surprising decision. He revealed that team balance and lack of adequate finishers have resulted in him coming in at number three or four for Mumbai Indians.
At the end of the Sunday clash against Gujarat Lions, Rohit said, “I would love to open, but certain things you got to think from the team's perspective as well. Being the captain of the team – you have to think about the right balance. Batting at four (or) three gives us the balance we want. Last year we felt that we wanted someone to just bat till the end and it wasn't happening and we weren't able to finish (some) games.”
“This is probably one of the reasons I have to take that decision to come down at three (or) four. I am open to anything. Whatever the team requires. If we see, where I have to go and open, I will go and open also. I am not closing my options. Right now probably three (or) four is the best position.”
In case you didn’t know...
Rohit began his international career as a middle-order batsman in the late 2000s. However, a sustained dip in form threw question marks around his place in the eleven. In early 2013, Indian captain MS Dhoni and the team management decided to harness his potential by promoting him as an opener in the limited-overs formats. The move worked wonders and the Mumbaikar has been opening with distinction since then.
The heart of the matter
During the 2016 IPL season, Rohit opened the innings for Mumbai Indians and scored 489 runs from 14 matches at an average of 44.45 and strike rate of 132.88 including five fifties. However, the franchise failed to qualify for the semi-finals after finishing fifth in the league table. One of the major reasons behind the near miss was their inability to finish matches with the bat.
As a result, Rohit has come in at number three or four in this season thus far. Following a string of single-digit scores, the elegant right-hander returned to form in the home fixture against Gujarat Lions. He smashed a 29-ball 40 to help Mumbai ace a tricky chase.
Mumbai Indians, who are currently at the top of the table, travel to Indore to take on Kings XI Punjab on Thursday. Going by his own words, it seems highly unlikely that Rohit will deviate from his plans and open the innings.
With the likes of Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers shoring up the lower-order, Rohit can swap positions with Jos Buttler and return as an opener. The hard-hitter from England may add an X-factor in the middle-orders through his explosive stroke-play.